5 Artists 1 Love is a celebration of local black artists and has been a strong presence in Edmonton’s art scene for the past eight years. Event founder Darren Jordan’s original vision of celebrating black art during Black History month has grown at a rate that surprises even himself, but shows how much the city was looking for something like this.
“It really resonates with Edmontonians” says Jordan. “Not just within the black community, but everybody: Irish, Ukrainian, Ethiopian, Jamaican; it’s a real good multicultural vibe.”
With the help of Tu Gallery owner Alex Patterson, the first 5 Artists 1 Love event took place in 2006 and broke attendance records every year that followed. Jordan’s goal was to make it into larger galleries in the city with the end goal being the Art Gallery of Alberta. He figured that it would take several years for that to happen, but the show made it to the AGA in its sixth year of production. 5A1L’s solid mix of art, music and spoken word has helped propel it as a mainstay in Edmonton’s cultural landscape.
“During reception,” says Jordan, “something happens every 15 minutes. Someone gets on stage and does some spoken word or plays some music, and it’s just a sample of what follows. At eight o’clock there’s an all out show with the city’s finest musicians and spoken word artists. It’s very engaging and there are a lot of surprises. Things happen that you wouldn’t expect.”
Judy Robinson is one of this year’s featured artists and is nothing but excited to get to show her work on a larger scale. A long time contributor to Edmonton’s art community, she sees this as an opportunity to tell her story.
“[Painting] was kind of like therapy,” says Robinson, “but I’m also a history buff, so I put that in [my work] too along with my experiences as a black woman. Raising consciousness is huge.”
Never being one to shy away from controversial subject matter, Robinson’s work deals with topics of religion, slavery, and politics, and believes all art should invoke a reaction.
“For me, art is acknowledging another voice out there who’s not getting recognized or not getting heard”.
Robisnon’s latter point is an idea shared with Raekash Walters. She became a fan of the event after attending the last few, and she came on as a media and communications rep in November 2013. Aside from her enjoying the art on its surface, she understands that many are still not aware of the history behind the work.
“I think it’s a lack of exposure,” adds Walters. “ I remember every year in social studies class in high school I would ask my teacher when we would learn about black history, and we never did. I think kids are interested but some just don’t know about it.”
This year marks the first time that 5A1L will be held at the Citadel Theatre and people can expect a packed list performers including Arlo Maverick of Politic Live, Jeff Hendrick & the Love Jones Band, and Krystle Dos Santos who was part of the first ever show at The Yardbird; she currently resides in Vancouver and is flying out just to be at the event.
5 Artists 1 Love shows how much an idea can evolve and create a community in it of itself; an idea echoed in Jordan’s mantra when he first started the event:
“If you can’t find a scene, make a scene.”
5 Artists 1 Love opens Saturday February 1, 2014
Art Show Gala Reception 4pm – 7pm
United Colours of Soul (musical and spoken word performance) 8pm – 11pm
Tickets available at 5artists1love.com/tickets
By: Brnesh Berhe